It’s a musical that made its Broadway debut in 2014 in a production starring Idina Menzel.
If/Then is the story of a recently-divorced 38-year-old woman moving to New York City to start her life over. Her friends suggest two paths her life could take, and the show examines the events associated with deciding to embark down each path.
This week, Western Sydney-based independent outfit Theatre & Company will present the New South Wales premiere of If/Then at Parramatta’s Riverside Theatres. The production will have a limited run at the Lennox Theatre that begins on Friday.
Theatre & Company owner and If/Then director Adam Haynes tells Theatre People the team is excited to bring Sydney audiences a show not yet seen on the mainstages of Australia, but one that is recognisable to fans of musical theatre. He also mentions the appeal of the story itself.
“I love the idea of the universal lessons that you’re supposed to learn in life,” Haynes explains. “That big question … when these things crop up in your life and you make one choice [is] … what if you had made that other choice. Would you still have learned the same lessons … along the way? Could you learn those same lessons in a different way? And how does that happen?
“We always joke around that it’s kind of like ‘Sliding Doors – The Musical’,” Haynes adds, referring to the 1998 Gwenyth Paltrow film.
He and his team are also big fans of If/Then’s score.
“It was done by the same team who did Next to Normal,” he says.“The music is absolutely stellar.”
So, why tell this particular story in Sydney in 2019?
“Aside from the beautiful music and the story, it’s one of those [musicals] that actually makes you think, and it really makes you think about your own life,” Haynes says. “There are so many everyday situations … that everybody in the audience can relate to.”
Haynes also mentions the diversity of If/Then’s characters.
“There are two LGBTQ storylines in the musical,” he says.
In fact, Theatre & Company’s production of If/Then has been included in the program for the 2019 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
“The Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has agreed to actually extend their season to include us,” Haynes says.
Haynes also talks about his keen interest in directing new works.
“I think it’s fun to put your mark on something … and it’s not a case that you’ve replicated something that [the audience] has seen six months before somewhere else, and you’ve taken half the ideas from there and you’re just churning something out,” he says.
“I’ve been lucky enough to direct a few premieres in Sydney … and what those [experiences] taught me was, as a director, you actually get to have more fun because you are forced to create something new. You are forced to sit down and think … and question every decision you make about whether it is right for the actors, right for the stage, right for the character, is the audience going to get it … If I’ve seen [a show] a couple of times and I’ve seen it here and there, I actually think it limits creativity because you’re influenced by what you’ve seen as a default, rather than being forced to create something new. I guess that’s why I like doing new works, because I know that I’m authentic in it. I know that everything that I’ve put on stage has come from my brain, not somewhere else, and that hopefully if people enjoy it, they’re really enjoying the hard work that we’ve put in.”
In order to cast If/Then, Theatre & Company opted for open auditions.
“We were really overwhelmed with the amount of people who came to audition,” Haynes says. “We got people from all over – from the Blue Mountains, from Bondi – all coming out for this, which just shows that when it’s the right show … and something that hasn’t been done before, then people pay attention and they really want to be part of something special.”
Featuring a cast of 17 (eight leads and nine ensemble members), If/Then will premiere in the Riverside’s 200-seat Lennox Theatre.
“It needs an intimate stage … You need to feel a connection with the actors for this kind of a show,” Haynes says. “We really love the space that we have.”
And who should see If/Then?
“Anybody who … considers themselves a musical theatre nerd needs to come and see this show,” Haynes says. “It’s a great show for teenagers to adults … [It’s for] anybody who loves music that makes you feel, music that makes you think, plotlines that really make your brain tick, and anybody who loves hearing powerhouse men and women absolutely tear the roof off.”
IF/THEN – SEASON DETAILS
Dates: 1 February – 8 February, 2019
Venue: Lennox Theatre, Riverside Theatres (Corner Market &, Church St, Parramatta)
Friday 1 February at 8pm – Opening Night
Saturday 2 February at 2:30pm & 8pm
Sunday 3 February at 12pm & 5pm
Wednesday 6 February at 8pm
Thursday 7 February at 8pm
Friday 8 February at 8pm
Ticket prices: Member Adult $45; Adult $49; Concession $45; Child (16 and under) $45
(Transaction fees apply – Phone $4.60; Web $3.60; Counter: $2.60)
Buy tickets here